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PhD Programmes

Media and communications research is developing rapidly, both theoretically and methodologically, in-keeping with the vast expansion in the penetration, technological diversity and social significance of the media globally. Media and communications research is essentially interdisciplinary, drawing on the theories and methods of a range of social science disciplines as they apply to the media, both old and new.

With 91% of its research output judged to be "world leading" or "internationally excellent" (REF 2014), the LSE Department of Media and Communications provides an excellent research-based education to its doctoral researchers. Its mission is to guarantee the highest quality graduate research training in media and communications and to undertake original social science research in the field, emphasising in particular the relationship between media, technology and social change.

Programmes and Course Structure

MPhil/PhD in Media and Communications

MPhil/PhD in Data, Networks and Society

Evaluation and Progress

Doctoral researchers will be required to submit a full thesis proposal of 10,000 words to their thesis committee before the end of their first year. This will include a substantive statement of the aims, theories and methods proposed for the thesis, a tentative chapter outline, an indicative bibliography and a timetable for its completion.

Together with assessment in core theoretical and methodological taught courses, this thesis proposal will form part of the evaluation process, and, together with an oral examination (an upgrade viva) based on the thesis proposal, will determine whether students are permitted to upgrade from MPhil to PhD and continue into their second year.

All students will be expected to complete their PhD within four years or the equivalent for part-time students.

Current PhD Researchers

The Department's doctoral programme currently has approximately 35 doctoral researchers, offering each the opportunity to develop their research skills and ideas in a global centre of excellence in media and communications research.


Doctoral supervision in the Department takes one of two forms, with faculty offering either primary and secondary supervision; or co-supervision, i.e. joint supervisors with broadly similar responsibilities. In all cases, the primary supervisor or one co-supervisor will be at professorial or associate professorial level.

New doctoral researchers are assigned to supervisors with requisite knowledge in the chosen field. The supervisory team will normally be made up of Departmental faculty, but if you are working on a topic with a particularly interdisciplinary focus, it may be appropriate for a secondary supervisor or co-supervisor to be enlisted from another LSE Department. In such cases, either the primary supervisor or one co-supervisor will be Department of Media and Communications faculty

Each doctoral researcher will be assigned a thesis committee consisting of their two supervisors and a senior member of the Department's faculty as chair. This committee will act as the review panel at the end of the first year of registration and in the decision to upgrade a student from MPhil to PhD. The thesis committee also provides feedback on draft chapters submitted at the end of the second year and remains responsible for over-viewing the student's progress in subsequent years

Please see our list of Academic Staff list to view potential supervisors (please note that LSE Fellows cannot act as doctoral supervisors).

How to apply

Step 1: Check that you meet the entry requirements

Applicants to our doctoral programmes should possess (as a minimum):

  • a UK master's degree with a high merit of 68 (out of 100) or a non-UK equivalent in a subject appropriate to the research to be undertaken.
  • a UK master's dissertation with a distinction (70 out of 100) or a non-UK equivalent.
  • a UK undergraduate degree in an appropriate subject with upper second class honours or non-UK equivalent.

Our information for students by country/region gives details of our minimum entry requirements for qualifications offered in a number of countries.

There is no GRE/GMAT requirement for these programmes.

Step 2: Submit a formal application to LSE

The formal application system will open in October 2018, and the process is handled by the LSE Graduate Admissions team. The criteria for selection include:

  • the degree of precision, motivation for and insight of the research proposal (see below), as well as its implications (theoretical, empirical and practical)
  • the candidate's past educational background (both its subject matter and qualifications)
  • the degree of support expressed in the references provided
  • the appropriateness of the proposed research topic for supervision by members of the School
  • the availability of a member of academic staff with appropriate expertise to supervise the proposed research

The Department requires a research proposal of no more than 2,500 words summarising and justifying your proposed research, to be attached to your formal application. See Research Proposal Guidelines below for instructions on how to structure this.

If your potential supervisor is interested in supervising your project, they will contact you informally with advice and guidance on improving your research proposal. Please note that communication with a potential supervisor does not constitute a formal offer of admission. 

Step 3: Attend an interview with your potential supervisor(s)

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed in person, by telephone or via Skype by their potential supervisor and normally another member of Departmental faculty. Following the interview, a final decision will be communicated within six weeks.

Research Proposal Guidelines

Applicants for doctoral study with the Department of Media and Communications are required to submit a research proposal of no more than 2,500 words summarising and justifying their proposed research.

The research proposal will provide selectors with an idea of topics of interest, and help in matching candidates to potential supervisors. If your application is accepted, you may be permitted to re-negotiate your topic, subject to the Department’s ability to supervise the new topic.

The final project proposal should feature the following sections:

  • Title: A clearly stated title / research question at the beginning of your proposal.
  • Preferred potential supervisor: Please indicate clearly on the first page of the proposal who you wish to supervise your project. Available supervisors can be found on our list of Academic staff (please note LSE Fellows cannot supervise PhD projects).
  • Keywords: Please include on the first page of the proposal up to 10 keywords or phrases which accurately reflect the content of your project (e.g., 'internet governance', 'data privacy', 'children's media use', 'feminism', 'representation', 'platform studies').
  • Introduction to research question(s): What question(s) will you attempt to answer? Why is the topic interesting and important? Is there a theoretical and empirical 'gap' that your research will seek to fill? What core theories and concepts will you draw on?
  • Literature Review: Summarise the relevant literature and the field(s) to be contributed to. What are the main theories in the area? What are the critical empirical phenomena in the area? Specify the key references relevant to the proposed research. How do you position yourself vis-à-vis the theories and concepts you propose to use?
  • Methodology: How will you address the empirical aspects of the research? Which methodology is appropriate and why? If the research question requires a combination of different methodologies, how will they be related? Do you foresee any practical difficulties in pursuing the research (e.g. finding suitable participants or data sources)? If so, how might they be overcome?
  • Conclusion: What is the added value of the project? How will your research take our understanding forward in your chosen (sub-)field? 
  • Bibliography: A list of texts used in preparing your proposal. (Not to be included in the word count).

Frequently Asked Questions

1 What are the minimum entry requirements?

There are three academic entry requirements:

  • a UK master's degree with a high merit of 68 (out of 100) or a non-UK equivalent in a subject appropriate to the research to be undertaken.
  • a UK master's dissertation with a distinction (70 out or 100) or a non-UK equivalent.
  • a UK undergraduate degree in an appropriate subject with upper second class honours or non-UK equivalent.

Our information for students by country/region gives details of our minimum entry requirements for qualifications offered in a number of countries.

There is no GRE/GMAT requirement for these programmes.

2. What are the English language requirements?

If your first language is not English and if your previous degree has not been taught entirely in English, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language ability. Please see the 'Research Programmes' section of the English language requirements webpage for details.

3. Is there a deadline for applications?

Application deadlines will be announced once the application system opens on 1 October 2018. The application deadline is normally in April, although late applicants may find that the appropriate supervisor has no places available for entry in the forthcoming academic year.

4. Must my application be accompanied by a research proposal?

Applications will only be considered if accompanied by a research proposal of no more than 2,500 words. Please see the Research Proposal Guidelines above for instructions on how to structure this.

Students are not, of course, tied to their initial research proposal and indeed many will change the emphasis of their research during the first year of study. However, we ask to see a proposal from all applicants in order to determine whether any of our faculty members would be a suitable supervisor and as evidence that the applicant has a good understanding of what is involved in doctoral research.

5. Whom should I contact about financial support?

Please see the Financial Support Office for all information about funding your studies, including LSE PhD Studentships

6. Who can I contact if my question is not answered here?

A wealth of information on every aspect of the LSE application process and requirements is available on the Graduate Admissions webpages.

More detailed information on life as a doctoral researcher in the Department is available in the most recent MPhil/PhD Handbook, although please note that the information in this document is subject to change each academic year.

For any further information, please contact

Visiting Research Students

Visiting Research Student status at LSE allows research students at other universities to spend up to one academic session at the School at the discretion of the department concerned. A supervisor is assigned to every Visiting Research Student.

Visiting Research Students in the Department of Media and Communications need to be research and doctoral students registered at another university and wishing to undertake some aspect of their research in the UK. Certain seminars and classes can be attended subject to the advice and approval of the supervisor and teachers concerned. All courses take place in the first two terms – taught course attendance is entirely optional. A full transcript of studies can be produced at the end of the period of study.

How to apply to be a Visiting Research Student

You will need to submit a formal application but to use the application code for visiting status - P4E1 - Visiting Research Student in Media and Communications.

You should provide, as part of your application:a written proposal of no more than 2,500 words, which gives details of your proposed research question(s), the relevant literature and previous research in the field, research methods used and theoretical/conceptual framework to be adopted.

As a Visiting Research Student, you will be charged tuition fees for each academic term you study at LSE. The fees are listed under 'Visiting Research Student' in the relevant Table of Fees for the year you wish to study.

In addition to this, it is required that prospective Visiting Research Students outline the progress made in their PhD project and the reasons for the proposed visit to the Department of Media and Communications. This will enable us to make an informed decision about the proposal and it is equally important to establish if there are appropriate supervisors for your planned research (you will normally be allocated two supervisors). Faculty cannot be expected to provide feedback on proposals and students should submit a proposal that fully covers the elements required. However, it is advisable that prospective Visiting Research Students seek agreement from potential supervisors prior to submitting their official application.

The department also requires proof of Visiting Research Students' ability to work at the required level in English, as well as two academic references, one of which must be from your current principal PhD supervisor.